WATERTOWN Nearly 100 children were waiting to be signed in with five minutes to spare before the inaugural Nyla Temple 238 Easter egg hunt Sunday afternoon in Thompson Park.
Totaling 856 adults and children, the hunts turnout astounded chairman Antawan J. Newsome.
We predicted about 40, maybe 50 (children). We never predicted this many, so next year were going to double it up, he said.
The nonprofit Nyla Temple 238, an affiliate of Prince Hall Shriners, organized the event as a way to give back to the community, said Mr. Newsome, the temples high priest and prophet.
We love giving back to the community, he said. Thats what were here for.
The group hid 500 Easter eggs throughout the park. In 70-degree weather, the mass of children and parents was split into two groups. Led by Nyla associates, children could search certain parts of the park for eggs in their designated age group. Ages 1 to 5 sought yellow eggs while ages 6 to 12 sought red. The event started at 12:30 p.m.
Even though some children didnt find an Easter egg, parents agreed it was more of a family activity.
Its something new, said Eric J. Hauck, Watertown. Weve got two young kids and we wanted to come up here and have some fun.
Holding his daughter, Leah M., almost 2, his wife, Jennifer L., said, Shes already pointed out a few eggs, so I think shes going to get into it once she sees the other kids running around.
Dario D. Gutierrez, 11, of Calcium, said his father brought him along with his 6-year-old sister, Calista J., to bond.
I guess this is just something my Dad wants to do to get closer to us; to spend more family time together, he said.
Belana C. Davis, 3, the second youngest of four, was lucky enough to find two eggs, hidden in trees.
Its a lot of people out here. I think thats why thats all she got, said her mother, Taneka V. Davis, Fort Drum. I have to work Easter so I brought them here since we wont be able to spend Easter together.
She admitted to being a little disappointed with the events organization, suggesting next year the group should line all children up and let them search at the same time. Her children were in the back of the group led up the hill to the search.
Most eggs were filled with candy. Whoever found the two gold eggs received a cash prize, a stuffed Easter basket and a $20 gift card to Yo-Johnnys. An Easter basket and gift card also were given to the person with the most Easter eggs.
Just before 1 p.m., most families were leaving the park with their prizes. Many children stayed on, content to play at the park.
We will be better prepared next year. Well have twice as many eggs to accommodate the Watertown community, Mr. Newsome said.
Nyla Temple 238 sponsors the Shriners as Mentors program that aids the education of at-risk and minority students and has partnered with the American Diabetes Association. The organization will host its annual Diabetes Walk on May 24 at Thompson Park.
Nyla Temple 238 was established in Watertown in 2009. The organization is at 1204 State St. For more information, visit www.Nylatemple238.org.